SARATOGA SPRINGS — Lilly Jersen, 15, fell in love with ballet from the first time she watched the Nutcracker at age three.
“We had the DVD of the New York City Ballet Nutcracker and I’d always put it on in the living room and dance around to it in my tutu,” said Jersen.
Jersen dances both ballet and jazz at Saratoga City Ballet and it has become almost a second home as she spends countless hours in the studio. Sometimes she’s dancing for seven hours straight on the weekends. Though continuously dancing for hours could be tiring, especially in tights – which Jersen states as her only dislike when it comes to dancing – ballet by far is her favorite form of dance.
“I like how it’s really technical and it gives you something to focus on,” said Jersen. “And I really like classical music.”
Many people watch a ballet and observe the seemingly effortless grace on a stage, but what goes into a ballet is not effortless.
“You know a lot of people think it’s just like little girls twirling around in tutus, and that’s definitely not the whole thing,” said Jersen.
Outside of her regular practices Jersen regularly maintains her athleticism at home by completing strengthening exercises, stretching and staying hydrated. Over the summer, like many dancers, Jersen will take a summer intensive to improve her skills. For two weeks, she will be studying at the American Academy of Ballet.
While ballet is not a team sport, it takes a team to operate the moving parts behind a practicing dancer. Encouragement from her dance friends throughout the week and before shows helps to keep Jersen motivated. As for her strongest support system, Jersen states her parents.
“They’re constantly driving me to and from dance and they pay for the classes and stuff like that. And my mom helps out with the performances and the production.”
Jersen doesn’t plan on dancing professionally but will continue to dance for as long as she can.